Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vet call

When Finn arrived, we had been told he tested positive for Lymes disease, and were given his meds. The next day I made an appt for Finn to see our vet. I wanted to talk to them about his results, and also have them look him over.

Finn was nervous about the car ride, about the new place, everything. While he was always friendly to people he met, and other dogs, he still walked tucked, and kept close to me. Everyone of course loved Finn! He did very well, except for passively collapsing to the floor when the vet tried to examine him. He stood to be weighed, 102 pounds. As she checked him over he yelped and jumped. He had a sore place at the base of his tail. Either his tail had been yanked pretty hard, or perhaps closed in a door. She gave us anti-inflammatory meds, flea control, and asked us to fax his records to them.

Since he was tested for Lymes, he was probably tested for Heartworms, but we couldn't start the meds unless we were sure it was negative. Further vaccinations would have to wait on the records.

While we were there I decided to check out the boarding kennel. We were making a trip to New Jersey soon, and I wanted to look into a good place for him to stay. I also figured giving him a chance to look at the place would familierize him with it. The facilites were excellent, each dog has a private room, some with windows. They were walked every three hours, and everything was behind fences, so no chance of escapees.

Finn hated it. As we walked by the glass doors the other dogs barked, and lunged at him. He refused to walk by the worst ones. To get outside he would have to walk a gauntlet of dogs, plus go down stairs, which we knew would be a difficulty for him. He hadn't quite figured out stairs yet.

I thought it would just be to much for him, as traumatised as he was, to be left by us in a strange place for a weekend. He hadn't been with us long enough to trust we would come back for him.

Once home I had the fun of trying to get a really big pill in him twice a day. The Lymes meds were easy. Very small pills, roll them up in cheese, no problem! I bought hot dogs, and cut fat slices, pushing the pills in them. This worked fairly well. occasionally he would chew enough for the pill to fall out. He was very good most of the time about eating them, although I knew they tasted awful.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Eating a la carte

Wolfhounds, and other large dog breeds need their food dishes elevated for them to eat. this is to prevent them from swallowing too much air, and risking bloat. Bloat is a condition where the stomach distends with gas and twists, and can be fatal.

I had been looking online for elevated dog dishes, and all the ones I found were really expensive! (over $100!!) I had a plant holder that was close to the right height, but a bit too flimsy for rough use, so I headed off to Target to see what I could find.

So here is Finn's exclusive dining set:

$12 each for the stands, $7 each for the bowls. Finn thinks they are Stylin'.

(note the scattering of crumbs on the floor..he's not the neatest eater..)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wolfhound show

Sunday was the Potomac Valley IR Club Specialty show. We had told the couple who brought Finn we would go to the show so they could see how he was doing. We also wanted to go and meet some of the club members and see more wolfhounds.

The first thing problem we had as getting Finn in the back of the suburban. The tailgate was just a bit high for him, so we ended up lifting him into the back. He is very heavy. When we got to the show he hopped out without a problem.

When Finn saw the other wolfhounds, he immediately got excited, whining and pulling on the leash. It was a total contrast to how he had been meeting other dogs. Whether it was the sight or scent of them, he knew they were like him. He wanted to play, but they were all in yards or getting ready to show. We walked around, talking to the club members, and enjoying all the dogs.

Through all this Finn was obedient, but still tail down and worried. I actually asked one of the club members if they thought something was wrong with his tail. It hung straight down instead of the IW curl at the end. I was told when he felt more confident, he would hold his tail up and it would curl. We got lots of advice on how to get him to eat, and other good tidbits. It was a fun day.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Finn meets the girls

Saturday our daughters came home for the weekend, and Finn got to meet two more members of the family. He of course was instantly smitten. Met them at the door, tail wagging. He spent the day following the youngest around and being her foot warmer every time she sat down. Our older daughter is not an animal person, so we had a chance to reinforce what we had already been teaching him. 'Back off.'

Teaching him this was a necessity, as he is counter and table height. He was already learning it, just like he had already learned his name. Still working on come, he seems to expect bad things to happen. If you call him, he will look at you and back away, cringe a bit when you go to get his collar. On walks he is still wary of adult strangers and other dogs. We are trying to make walks relaxing, letting him walk slowly and sniff around a bit.

Tonight we mixed in roast beef and gravy in his food. no problem eating that! First full meal he has eaten since he came.

The Bacon Caper

So we cooked a breakfast, and had bacon leftover. Everyone had errands to run, so we all left, and I put the leftover bacon on a high counter, about 5 feet off the ground on a small plate, and left Finn loose in the house when I left.

I got back with my shopping, and was putting things away when I noticed the empty plate. All the bacon was gone, and the plate wasn't moved an inch. I couldn't be mad, it was too funny. Finn no doubt figured we didn't want that bacon (we left it, didn't we?) , and he certainly didn't want it to go to waste. Considering how far he had to stretch to reach it, I think he did a good job not knocking the plate on the floor.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day two, Finn meets the horses..

Today the farrier was coming to trim and shoe our horses. My husband took the day off, and decided to take Finn with him to the barn. He seemed unconcerned about the horses, sniffed noses and that was it. He was turned loose in the 3 acre pasture, and explored for a while.

He came back when he was called, and quietly layed down while the horses had their feet done. He was good about getting in the car, even though he fills the entire back seat.

He still wasn't eating, so I spent time trying to get him to eat. I got a handful of kibble in him, and a few dog cookies. Still seems a bit stressed, standing and panting instead of relaxing. We thought he may relax with his bed in the family room with us, so we pulled it in. He immediately cheered up and layed down with a sigh.
I think he was distressed that he had to go in another room to lay on his bed. he wanted to be with us where ever we were.

Later when my son got home from work, Finn jumped up and met him at the door, tail wagging. In Finn's mind, all children are safe and wonderful.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day one...

After much discussion, and the realization that our dog doesn't respond to the name he came with, we have decided to re-name him Finnegan. it was the name we had picked out before when we thought we were going to adopt, and we already had a tag with it engraved on it. plus, he looked like a Finnegan!

He did very well last night. We put up chair barricades to keep him in the living room. He had a big bed to sleep on and food and water. Since we hadn't finished the fence yet, and he wasn't sure of us, we kept him on the leash and walked him for all his potty breaks.

Since he didn't come with a collar, after work I stopped at Petsmart and did some shopping. Collar, bowls, etc. For now we were putting his bowls on the fireplace, but they still weren't quite high enough. Larger dogs like IW need to have their food and water bowls set up so they can reach them without crouching.

Not that that mattered as Finn wasn't eating. He was nervous, stressed, and frantically obedient. Walking him, he never strayed from your side, barely even to take care of business. There was no sniffing of mailboxes, etc., and if we met someone, he held back. His tail had been tucked since we got him. The only time we saw his tail wag was when my son came home from work last night. Finn jumped up, stepped in front of me. I held my son's hand for Finn to sniff, and his tail actually wagged a few times. Only time we have seen it.

All evening long, Finn has stood by my chair and panted. I tempted him to eat a bit by giving him leftover buttermilk biscuits. Tonight, as we put him in his 'area,' he whined for a while before quieting down.

I have to believe he is pretty bewildered. We did find out he has his shots, he is neutered, and vet records will be coming. He was being kept in a kennel outside, when he was picked up, who knows what happened. Perhaps the family wasn't prepared for his size, maybe there was deployment or divorce, we will never know. He will never know. All dogs bond with their people, but wolfhounds are known for being particularly loyal. Even though he wasn't with the family on a daily basis, they were still the only family he knew. Every time we have walked him, he has searched. Sniffing the air, looking down the street. He is particularly interested in small children, almost frantic to get to them and sniff. Once he does, he knows they aren't his family, and he just droops, and starts looking again.

How could someone ignore, or give up such a wonderful dog? I don't understand!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why a Wolfhound?

While I love all animals, when it comes to in the house, I am really more of a cat person. Perhaps this is because of 18 years or living in apartments and condos, plus having to give up my last dog 20 years ago because of the move to MD. I had my horses, my son had his cat, we were content.

But then I married a dog person. He didn't immediately start in on wanting a dog, both of us were working full time, and we were gone just too much to think of bringing in a puppy, but I knew it would happen eventually. We discussed dog breeds, him leaning towards retrievers or sheperds, me leaning towards something that didn't chew everything in sight and shed 24/7. Or drool, or bark constantly, or jump on everyone, or...you get the picture.

We had decided we would wait until we were retired, and had a farm. Plenty of room for the dog(s) and time for socialization and training. I was involved in horse rescue with a couple of groups who bought horses from meat dealers and placed them in new homes. I did some limited transport and networking for them. One of the fellow group members mentioned she had an Irish Wolfhound she was trying to find a better home for.

She had taken the dog in a couple of years before (he was about 4-5 yrs old). He lived outside, and she was concerned being out in the cold in winter was taking it's toll on him. So my husband and I discussed it, and I did some research on the breed. We had always been interested in Irish Wolfhounds and the related breed Scottish Deerhounds, but as we are firm believers in adopting rescue animals, we never thought we would find one needing a home. We discussed it for a while, and talked to our kids. Since the dog was already older, and housebroken, and past any puppy chewing, we decided to go ahead. Plus, the photo of him had already done the most work, he was the typical grey wolfhound, with a mournful soul searching expression. How could we turn that face down? (later of course we learned all wolfhounds can turn on that mournful, 'please give me some of your hamburger' look) We had plenty of room, a backyard that was 80% fenced, just a days work to finish it up.

One problem was that the dog was several states away. We discussed flying him, but the stress of the flight was not something we wanted to put him through. We decided to wait until we had a horse transport trip coming through, which could easily accommodate a large dog. As we set this up, the dog starting having problems. In a 24 hour period, he rapidly went downhill, and a trip to the vet showed he was in organ failure. It was suspected he had a liver shunt, but they decided the best course was to put him down.

We of course were quite heartbroken. Our whole family was looking forward to giving him a home. We stopped talking about a dog and just went on with our lives. I however, had gotten hooked on the breed with my research. Here was a large breed, who did well with horses and large animals, with a wiry coat (no shedding! I thought), and while they had energy outside, was the typical sighthound fur rug inside. Perfect for our lifestyle. I didn't want a hyper, jumping dog who would take out legs and furniture with their tail. (Yes, I have been around a lot of labs) I also wanted a dog with the minimum of 'tampering' by humans, so there would be few health issues like eye and ear problems in breeds like Cocker Spaniels, or breathing, like Pugs and Boxers, mouth/drooling problems like Bassett Hounds.

After about a month of thinking about this, I decided to check Petfinders. Perhaps there were Irish Wolfhounds out there looking for homes. After 20 years without a dog, I didn't want to give up on giving one a home. I found an adorable part wolfhound puppy on Petfinders. I didn't want a puppy, we didn't want a puppy. We wanted housebroken and trained! But here was this puppy. Of all the litter, he was the cutest. Solid cream with red ears, he was colored like his mother, but at 8 wks was already 15 pounds, and looked exactly like all the other wolfhound puppies. I didn't mind a cross. We discussed it again as a family, since the puppy would require more work from everyone. The kids of course were very enthused, so we decided to apply to adopt him. Our application was accepted, but now was the problem of picking him up. He was several states away, 18 hours by car.

I decided to fly down and bring him back in a crate in the cabin. It meant pretty much buying a ticket for the puppy, but I thought that was the safest way to get him. I made all arrangements, it meant taking 3 days off from work, and driving a car 6 hours from the airport to where the puppy was, staying with family the first day, then a hotel at the town where he was. I made all the arrangements, let the sanctuary know I was on my way, and when I would be there to pick him up. I went shopping the night before I left, getting everything you could possible need for a 9 week old puppy, and a crate for the journey.

We had decided to turn the living room into the puppy nursery (hardwood floors!), so it was cleared, a large crate set up with pad, blankets, etc. We were completely ready, and Petsmart was several dollars richer! Off I flew to go get our puppy.

I landed in the airport, and turned my phone on. I had a message. The sanctuary had called leaving a long message that the puppies had all come down with Parvo, and to call before I drove to the place. I had no clue what Parvo was. I called the sanctuary back, they couldn't help me much, the person who had the puppies wasn't there. I called my family and got them Googling Parvo. I called my vet who gave me the best information.

For those of you who don't know, Parvo is deadly to puppies. They should get vaccinated at 6 weeks for it. It is a disease that is common in feral dogs, and has several vectors, including raccoons and birds. At first I thought it was just a matter of dealing with a sick puppy for a while, then as I got more information, I realized even if our puppy had a mild case, I couldn't bring him back to our neighborhood anyway. Those infected can shed the Parvo virus for 6 weeks after their symptoms subside. We live in a neighborhood full of dogs. There was no way I would risk introducing such a deadly disease into our neighborhood. I called the sanctuary back and let them know. I didn't want to know if the puppy survived or not, but I don't think it likely as he was pretty bad.

I was torn between grief for the puppy, and anger at the people who were responsible for him. None of the litter got any shots at 6 weeks like they were supposed to. At 9 weeks they still hadn't gotten any immunizations. When I called to say I was leaving the day before my flight, they knew then the puppies were sick, but no one told me. Then I came home after wasting 3 vacation days and the money on the flights to a living room full of puppy toys, and the tag with his name and our address sitting on the counter.

We totally shelved the idea of getting a dog. It seemed the fates were against us. I had several friends who had gone through their own trials tell me 'Third time is the charm.' It seemed bad experiences with rescues were not unusual. Another friend mentioned the Irish Wolfhound Specialty show that took place in Quiet Waters Park every year. Why don't I contact that club?

The Potomac Valley Irish Wolfhound Club hold a specialty show every year, and has a large presence in the area. I thought maybe going to the show would get me my wolfhound fix, and I would talk to them about adopting maybe in the future. I e-mailed and Spoke to several wonderful people in the club. they have an application to be on a list for adoption, should a wolfhound need a home. This club has a policy, if you can't keep your wolfhound any more, for whatever reason, call them and they will come get the dog and place them in a good home.

I thought about it for a while, and finally thought I would mail in the application. Maybe by fall there would be a dog needing a home. I was still feeling a bit burned out, and wasn't really looking. The day after I mailed the application in I got a call from the club. An 18 month old wolfhound needs a home now, or they will put him to sleep! They hadn't even gotten my application, but remembered from talking to me that I was interested in adopting. A quick e-mail to my husband, and we said yes, we would take him.

We had no information about him at all, size, color, shots, not even if he was full wolfhound. Just that he had been raised with children, and was housebroken. They asked if we could take him the next day, I said yes, we still had all our set up from when we expected to get a puppy, including a 40 pound bag of large breed puppy food. They wanted to deliver him, and do a home check, as well as make sure the dog was going to feel comfortable with us.

March 25 at 7pm, a car pulled up in font of our house. The couple got out, and we introduced ourselves. While this was going on we could see the dog in the back of their van, but that was about it. Would we like to meet the dog? Yes, of course, and they asked him to get out of the van. Out climbs this huge dog (still a puppy?!?) nothing but a cord around his neck. I went and got the leash I had bought for the puppy, so he could at least walk about a bit.

Is it possible to fall in love at first sight? Because we both did. He was huge, grey, gangly thin, and very dejected and worried. He was beautiful! We showed them our yard and house, and filled out paperwork. Meanwhile the dog stood and panted, stressed from all the changes. Finally, as my husband held his lead, he layed down at his feet and relaxed a bit.

They left, giving us vet numbers, contact information and lots of advice. We had gone from no dog to a lot of dog in a very short time.